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Spending bonanza for schools;Briefing

India.

A facelift for the dowdy state-run school system is expected after the government last week announced a 50 per cent hike in spending on primary and secondary education.

The education budget is to be stepped up gradually to the level of 6 per cent of the gross domestic product - a target fixed in 1991 when India hosted a conference of developing countries on elementary education. The UK spends 5 per cent of GDP.

Experts say the impact of the increase - big even after allowing for inflation - will depend on how the money is spent.

The priority, they say, is improving the quality of the existing 750,000 schools, many of which are in unsafe buildings and lack furniture and drinking water.

If the government opts for the more populist course of opening new ones, the estimated 130 million pupils and 3.5 million teachers may not benefit.

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